I got up to walk to the coffee machine a few moments ago and looking out the office window, saw some of the furry creatures that own my heart, just hanging out on the steps that lead up to the house.

I paused for a moment, mid-step and just soaked in the scene.

It’s an absolutely gorgeous day outside and while I sit in here at the PC trying to figure out if there is anything that resembles a business-life after COVID, these little guys are just soaking in the moments and breathing in the fresh air.

I sneaked out, with my camera to catch this shot, and unsurprisingly, was caught by one of the sentries as I took up a shooting position at the rear.

I should have known. You can never sneak up on a feral kitten, even when they are stuck in mid-dream. It might have been a crunch of a dried leaf under my step that gave me away, but once their wariness was satisfied that I meant no harm, I was still allowed to take this shot for you.

As I sat back down at the PC and called up the image from the camera, my inner-self smiled at the moment and at the same time castigated myself for the stress I am under.

You see, it’s easy to absorb all the stresses of COVID, and its work impact, the impending election tomorrow, and the hateful stances of many of my fellow Floridians.

We can easily internalize any of these issues and turn them into an issue that drives our mind, wrecks our sleep, and makes us feel generally ill.

And in truth, up until this moment under the stairs, I admittedly have done.

But pausing from my miseries and looking at the calm and restful moment that sat in front of me, quickly pulled into perspective how silly all of that is, when there is a life to be lived that is full of fresh air, warm sunshine, and an occasional lizard to chase.

Yes there are definitely times when things happen on a very subjective level. We suffer injury, crash our car, lose our job. Things of that nature that happen directly to us.

And when they do, they deserve our attention and we are completely correct in licking our wounds.

But in truth, the vast majority of things that cause stress and upset in our lives are external things that we allow to cross over into our lives as though they were internal. Our football team loses, our choice for president loses, some idiots rant online about a topic that is entirely alien to our way of thinking.

This is where perspective really plays a part in how we manage to overcome and ultimately put into the correct box each of these issues and leave them for someone else to worry about.

I struggle when faced with what I consider idiotic stances and policies on a range of social issues. The fact that I am a flaming liberal living in a red state, means that I come across this shit on a routine level.

And I do admit that there are many instances where the idiocy gets under my skin and causes an irritation.

But at the end of the day, that is all these external issues are … irritations. They are not real pain. Two close friends each lost a parent in the past couple of days. That, my friends is REAL pain.

So, it is important that we quickly understand what our perspective is when we encounter a situation. Does it affect us directly? Does it affect those we love directly?

I am not saying we cut our empathy to the point where we become republican, or anything even remotely that extreme.

But I am saying we need to dial our sensitivity level down a little to where we don’t go to bed in tears because the Rays didn’t win the World Series.

When we feel every stress and worry about every issue, we lose focus on the issues that are important and personal. The issues that perhaps we can actually do something about.

Keeping things in perspective is an age-old phrase that means as much today in this over-saturated news-rich world, as it did when the phrase was first coined.

… just a thought.

Simpler Times

For whatever reason this morning, I was hunting through old images and came across this shot that I had taken in 2015.

I had been invited to shoot a pagan festival in the farmlands around Lakeland and remember driving down an unlit narrow country road to a place I had never been before on a Halloween evening.

For a few moments there wasn’t even a distant sign of a building anywhere. It was just me and my car, driving into an unknown darkness.

I didn’t even know any of the people that were supposed to be there, because the guy who invited me wasn’t going to be there for another couple of hours but had just told the landowner that I was coming.

This is one of those stories that could easily end “and he was never heard of again”. And that thought sat vividly towards the front of my mind.

Once I found the farm opening, I saw a handful of parked cars and could see the celebration a hundred yards or so beyond the farm house.

When I reached the group, it was about 15 or 20 strong and I found and introduced myself to the farmer. “Jim sent me” sounded as lame then as it does now in writing it, but I got a warm handshake and introduced further to a couple of the organizers.

Though they certainly did make me feel welcome, I mostly stayed on the peripheral taking pics of the fire spinners and here is my favorite from the night.

Playing with fire during simpler times

Now in truth, there was very little about that moment that was remarkable or even that kept it in my memory. It took stumbling across these images to even remind me of the event.

But as I breezed through the images this morning, they reminded me of something that I am missing and quite possibly something that we all yearn for … simpler times.

Being 2015, it was obviously before COVID and it was also before the Trump normalization of hate and racism that is currently so pervasive.

And yet, 2015 isn’t really that long ago.

But in these five years, how the world has changed and how sad our lives have become because of it.

I am not trying to be political and while I am mildly hopeful of a change at the top soon, I remain concerned that now that the scab has been picked off the hate and racism, it will still engulf us for years to come.

People are so polarized now and they have been openly allowed to vent their hate, that there may be no easy return from the precipice that we have been led to.

Do all the bigots, racists, misogynists, suddenly become decent human beings again just because of a change of administration? Somehow, I doubt it.

There has been a cultural shift that has damaged us all and the lives we are trying to live. And it has resulted in mutual intolerance to where each side is convinced of their righteousness, without a need to listen or understand.

Like most of my friends, I do not believe “there are good folk on both sides” when it comes to certain issues. Some issues are very much black and white.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to listen to them, or try to understand where they are coming from, and try to bring them into the fold.

We need to begin inclusiveness and education as a way of calming the hate and putting out the fires that have so effectively been stoked.

Only then do we then begin to return to simpler times.

So, simpler times is a wonderful goal to aim for when times are anything but simple. They will often equate to a mere phrase that is a cornerstone of all humanities, of all religions, and of all dreams.

Peace on Earth

… just a thought!